One of the many things I appreciate about the Bible is its capacity to speak through the ages. Corruption is nothing new. The Apostle Paul, knowing his remaining days were probably few, wrote these words to warn and encourage Timothy, a godly young man he regarded as a son:
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money,
boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents,
ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous,
without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,
treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure
rather than lovers of God—
having a form of godliness but denying its power.
Have nothing to do with such people.”
II Timothy 3:1-5
Sound at all familiar? When I first read this passage three decades ago, I was struck by how it mirrored what was happening then. As I read it today . . . I weep.
We see the effects of corruption all around us. In the Counseling Room, many pour out their anger, their fears, their confusion and their regrets in having been caught up in the lies of corruption. Depression and anxiety are commonplace, as hope appears impossibly distant. It is my role and privilege to point them to a God who is alive and well and worthy of their trust:
“May the God of HOPE
fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
How are Christians to respond when corruption appears to abound?
Are we to cut ourselves off from those who have been caught up in such evil? I think not. I think what Paul is warning Timothy to avoid, is coming under the influence of false teachers who fan corruption into flame through their teaching and actions.
I believe that in times such as these, we are called to be courageous in loving those God puts on our path according to Christ’s teaching:
“Love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you . . . .
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Do not judge, and you will not be judged.
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Luke 6:27-28; 36 and 37
When we do this, we reflect the same determination and courage it took for Christ to love us sacrificially. How are we to do this?
- By remembering what Christ said to His disciples on the night of His arrest:
“In this world you WILL have trouble . . . .”
John 16 :33
We cannot afford to be naive about sin. As we navigate the challenges of living in this fallen world, we all too easily crumble and lose sight of hope as we doubt God’s goodness.
Speaking from experience:
- Remember that we cannot manufacture Christ’s love in and of ourselves. (When we do, we are doomed to failure.) It is only as we rely on God’s Holy Spirit and the wisdom of the Scriptures, that we receive the strength and courage needed to love others as Christ loved us. Such love is found only in the peace offered to us by Christ:
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.”
John 14: 27
Reflecting the call of Jesus to not let trouble or fear weaken us, Paul offers the mechanics of how we are to move forward in the love and mercy of Christ as we encourage each other:
“Love must be sincere.
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in love.
Honor one another above yourselves.
Never be lacking in zeal,
but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath,
for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”.
Romans 12:9-12, 17-21
All too often, when fear strikes we doubt God’s goodness.
We feel vulnerable . . . trapped . . . without hope.
Paul is saying, YOU HAVE OPTIONS
in how you respond to what is happening–
DO NOT LET FEAR OR ANGER GET IN THE WAY!
So what are our choices when faced with adversity in this very broken, screwed-up world? It boils down to two:
- We refuse to allow fear to hold us captive in corrupt times.
- We instead trust God to help us offer the HOPE of Scripture.
Jesus continues to call:
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me;
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:28, 29
The truth is, as we remember Christ’s call
and reclaim HOPE in corrupt times,
His light will shine through us to a desperately needy world.
All to His Glory!